By Melissa Chea-Annan
The 12th Ordinary Meeting for the Board of Governors of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) has ended in Monrovia with the election of Finance Minister Amara Konneh, as Chairman.
Minister Konneh, who spoke at the opening session of the meeting on Monday, described 2014 as an important year for the Bank in terms of what it has set out to achieve. He said this year marks a crucial period of reflection for the Bank as they review progress over the past four years, consistent with their strategic plan from 2010 to 2014. Minister Konneh, who now chairs the Board of Governors, indicated that his institution has set a clear ambitious target based on their agenda and moreover, he is very confident that they will derive the required outcomes to move the Bank forward.
According to the EBID’s new Chairman, though they have been challenged over the past few years, particularly in addressing capitalization and resource requirements for the Bank, they have still seen remarkable progress as they continue to sustain the foundation for growth and expansion.
“Today we come together to review some of the issues, not with all the answers, but with a unity of purpose that would ensure that we make the hard choices and take the tough decisions, both policy and operational in helping shape the future of this institution,” Minister Konneh stated.
Minister Konneh also stressed the need to approach the future of the Bank with renewed urgency as the region continues to witness what he described as economic and social stress along with the growing exposure of ECOWAS economies to external shocks.
The EBID Chairman boasted that the Bank has made significant progress in the construction and development of Liberia, and that a serious discussion is ongoing to seek assistance from the Bank in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport.
Minister Konneh pointed out that they will succeed in taking the Bank to a new level and that the Board of Governors will work in implementing decisions that would be taken by the ECOWAS Heads of State to improve the region and as well strengthen the banking sector.
The EIBD was founded to help leverage lending capital within the ECOWAS zone and support member states carry out development projects aimed at alleviating poverty and driving economic growth and development.
Monday’s meeting in Monrovia brought together 15 Finance Ministers or their proxies from the ECOWAS countries and the meeting which was the first time in Liberia since the late 90s reviewed all of the EBID’s activities over the past four years.
During the Meeting, the participants, including the Bank’s Governors, and Finance Ministers designed a new strategic direction for coming years as regards the Bank’s activities and also assessed and discussed the Bank’s resource mobilization position, particularly its funding portfolio and the need for capital injection by member states.
Their discussions also reviewed operational and policy issues, ranging from loan approvals, commitments currently financed and the status of commitments from member countries.
The EBID, formerly the EOCWAS fund was established by the Authority of Head of States of ECOWAS in 1979 as a leading regional investment and development finance bank for West Africa to foster infrastructure, trade, technology and social service development through low interest lending capital.